If you’re a Facebook user, you’ve probably seen blurbs like “Free McDonalds Gift Certificates!”, “Free Southwest Airline Tickets!”, and even “Free iPods!” Or perhaps you’ve noticed offers like “Change your Facebook colors,” “Get a Facebook Dislike Button,” or “See who’s stalking you on Facebook.” Sometimes the message will even claim that there’s an embarrassing video of you posted on Facebook or somewhere else on the web, or it will offer to show you a sensational celebrity video.
People fall for Facebook scams because they claim to offer something for nothing or provide something desirable that Facebook itself doesn’t offer.
Supposedly, to cash in on the offer, see the video, or get a Facebook enhancement, all you have to do is click and install an app. In reality, there’s no such offer or app, and you’ll end up giving valuable information to a scammer, as well as spamming the fake offer to all your friends.
So how does a typical Facebook scam work? You click the offer, which is usually posted by a trusted friend. What you don’t realize is that your friend got taken in by the scam and probably doesn’t realize his or her Facebook account is being used by the rogue app to lure in others.
You’re prompted to install an app that wants to ability to access your data and post to Facebook as you. That should be a big red flag. You should never, ever give an unknown app any access to your data or Facebook account.
Sadly, many people fall for the scam by giving it access and moving on to the next page. You’re then told you have to fill out a survey or offer, either to prove that you’re human or verify that your age is over 18. In reality, the scammer makes money for every sucker who does a survey or offer.
If you still haven’t realized that there’s no app, video, or free offer, you’ll be prompted to enter personal information like your name, email address, and cell phone number. Some of the more intrusive scammers even ask for your credit card number for a shipping and handling charge for the non-existent free gift.
As soon as you enter your information, you’ll be bombarded by spam emails and telemarketing calls. Permission for this is buried in the terms and conditions of the fake offer. Often, you’re signed up for premium text message services, with $9.99 or more added to your cell phone bill each month.
Your credit card will be charged monthly for a variety of worthless “memberships” that you inadvertently signed up for by giving your information. At worst, your number might be in the hands of identity thieves.
If you fall for one of these Facebook scams, immediately uninstall the app and warn all your friends. Call your credit card company and cell phone provider to check for unauthorized charges. You may need to get a new credit card number and put fraud alerts on your credit reports.
The Facecrooks website is a great source of information on the latest Facebook scams. However, as a general rule, beware of free offers that sound too good to be true and supposed Facebook enhancements. They’re almost always scams.
The old Nigerian scams are also still around. Find out more about them in my previous article. Learn more about Craigslist scams here.